Please select your home edition
Pantaenius AUS 40 Years 728x90

World’s Largest Sloop ‘Can’t Sail’?

by Nancy Knudsen on 1 Oct 2006
Mirabella V foredeck SW
What a beauty. 292 feet (89 metres) in the mast, 247feet (75.22 metres) long and 48.5ft (14.8metres) in the beam. She can do 17-18 knots with ease, and 10 knots in a 10 knot breeze. Mirabella V is not only a beauty; she’s the world’s largest sailing sloop. So what’s this we hear about a ‘problem’?

'Well,' say the experts in the bar, 'Did you know that every time you want to tack that boat, you have to lower the mainsail to the first reef?'
'Sure,' says another, who’s been in the bar at the end of race day for years, 'Ain’t that just ridiculous?'

'There’s another thing,' says some-one from the next group, whose just heard the name Mirabella V used, and can’t wait to join the conversation, ' Did you know that you can’t tack the boat without first furling the headsail, then letting it out on the other side?'

'Actually,' says another, 'I’ve never seen her sail with her full main up – she’s ALWAYS got a reefed main.'

The group are all shaking heads into their beers now. 'What a waste of money THAT was.' Finishes another, and there’s just no more to be said.

It wasn’t long after that that I found myself in conversation with the designer, Ron Holland, who has a long history of designing wonderful sailing boats. Could he really have designed a dog? So I asked him:

'Well,' said Ron in his soft drawl, 'If you query rolling the jib up to tack, really most big boats do that. It’s normal to at least partially roll up the jib. It saves the jib from wear.'

'As far as the main is concerned, this boat is unique in that it has a huge roach, and therefore to tack with full hoist mainsail you have to lower the main to the first reef point so that the sail will clear the backstay. The reason the boat was built this way is because we wanted her to sail well.

Most really large boats don’t go anywhere in light air. We wanted Mirabella to sail in all conditions. Now it’s a lot of boat to get moving - even though she has shallow hull lines, only 2 metres deep, she displaces 700 tonnes - so you need a lot of sail to get her to accelerate well.

So the sailing strategy of Mirabella V is to get her up and going quite quickly with the full main – she can do 10 knots in 10 knots of wind.

'However, once she’s sailing, she generates apparent wind very quickly, so the normal plan is to reef her down once she’s reached a good speed. She can easily do 17-18 knots with a reefed main.

'You must remember that we never plan to use a spinnaker, so you need the good sail area for downwind sailing – she also has three headsails, the largest of which negates the use of a spinnaker, so it’s all part of the overall plan to end up with a good fast sailing yacht.

'To say that she ‘doesn’t sail well’ is a bit outrageous. It’s quite clear when you look at the shallow hull and high aspect ratio of the keel that we were very much interested in her sailing ability. I think the comments you have mentioned are as much as anything a misunderstanding of the philosophy behind the design effort that went into Mirabella V.

'Mirabella V is a boat that sails well in light air, and that’s a really big achievement. Most large cruising boats don’t accelerate well, and Mirabella V does. The yacht, of course is out for charter some of the time, and during charters she does often sail around with one reef in the main – charterers are often looking for comfort not speed, and 12 knots or so is just right for them.

Well, there you go, drinkers at the bar – you learn something every day!

For full information about the lovely Mirabella V, go to her website

BandG AUS Zeus3 FOOTERHarken AUS HL Snatch Block FOOTERRS Sailing BOTTOM AUS

Related Articles

Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe day 11
With IMOCA analysis by Alain Gautier Paul Meilhat, Vincent Riou and Yann Eliès are fighting it out to make it to the podium, while aiming to be ready to pounce should the British leader show the slightest weakness.
Posted today at 7:59 pm
Robin Clegg on microplastics and the VOR
An interview with Robin Clegg about microplastics and the Volvo Ocean Race's Sustainability Program I checked in with Robin Clegg, who handles sustainability communications for the Volvo Ocean Race, via email, to find out more about microplastics, the VOR's Sustainability Program, and the results that this forward-leaning program delivered.
Posted today at 4:00 pm
Legacy of an Olympic Legend
The greatest sailing story in Olympics history? After Tokyo 2020, the Finn will have provided 68 years of Olympic competition. Originally designed in 1949, its contribution and influence over seven decades is both astonishing and significant.
Posted today at 1:50 pm
Has France been handed a 2024 Gold Medal?
"Australia, New Zealand, the United States, almost all of Asia" backed offshore keelboat In an interview with a French sailing website, the President of Fédération Française de Voile, has revealed how a five-member team from FFVoile were able to have a Mixed Offshore event included in the 2024 Olympic Events in Marseille.
Posted today at 12:53 pm
DAME Awards special mention for Scanstrut
We speak to Grant Fox about Scanstrut's new products At the METS 2018 marine trade fair we spoke to Grant Fox, Marketing Manager at Scanstrut, who were nominated at this year's show for a DAME award, and received a special mention in the design category for their wireless charging products.
Posted today at 12:00 pm
Perth Waters Coaching Regatta
Western Australia sends highly-regarded coaches to Perth The event is run by holding 10 short course races over the Saturday and Sunday. Races are held in the both the mornings and afternoons, this enables the competitors to get the opportunity to sail in the morning soft breezes.
Posted today at 11:04 am
Arkema capsizes on the Route du Rhum
Lalou Roucayrol is safe and well inside his boat French skipper Lalou Roucayrol has capsized on his Multi50 Arkema at around 0630hrs UTC/0730 CET this morning while racing in fourth place in the Route du Rhum-Destination Gaudeloupe approximately 1000 miles east of Guadeloupe.
Posted today at 8:57 am
Australian 13ft & 16ft Skiff Nationals preview
Set for at Darling Point Sailing Squadron at the end of December The 13 & 16 foot skiff nationals are to be held at Darling Point Sailing Squadron in Queensland from December 29th to January 5th.
Posted today at 5:58 am
Get expert advice for your forecast location
Predictwind announces text based weather forecasts for your location The PredictWind meteorological and development team has been working hard to make a concise and easy to understand the interpretation of their world-leading forecast models.
Posted today at 1:18 am
Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe day 10
Alex Thomson continues to extend his lead in the trade winds Now less than 1000 miles from the finish in Pointe-à-Pitre, the British skipper seems well placed, even if Paul Meilhat, Vincent Riou and Yann Eliès will remain a threat until the end, while Boris Herrmann is also lying in wait.
Posted on 13 Nov